The federal government is cutting earmarks for local jurisdictions, said El Centro Councilwoman Sedalia Sanders at a recent City Council meeting. It has caused the city to cancel sending council members to meet with legislators at a conference next month.
However, in the face of local cities cutting back, the Imperial County Board of Supervisors may still head to Washington early next month.
The board is scheduled to decide today whether to approve travel for five county representatives. Two supervisors, the air pollution control district officer, intergovernmental relations director and county executive officer will head to Washington, D.C., for the National Association of Counties and Border Counties Coalition conferences.
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It’s necessary all five go, as each will be working hard for different things, said Supervisor Gary Wyatt, one of the five scheduled to head to Washington in March. The officials will visit with legislators, meet with similar counties about border issues and more.
“We’ve got a lot of things to do there,” Wyatt said. “One of our primary things to do is promote our legislative agenda.”
That includes transportation funding, payment in lieu of taxes funding and community development block grants, he said.
The county is cutting back from last year, when seven county officials went, said County Executive Officer Ralph Cordova. The right people are going to discuss certain issues.
The trip won’t necessarily be to bring more money back to the area, but make sure funding for locally-used programs stays at the same level, he said. Some areas of federal spending have been on the chopping block, including the Economic Development Administration, which the county has utilized to create jobs.
There’s going to be more work involved with trips like this, said Congressman Bob Filner, D-Chula Vista. Local officials can’t just meet with their local legislators.
Instead they have to visit different federal departments to talk over grants instead of earmarks, he added.
“The federal government is not going to cut that much funding in these areas,” he said. “It’s just going to be a different way to get money.”
By the numbers
County officials heading to Washington, D.C.
$1,800 to $2,200 per person
$2,000 to $2,500 anticipated per person
$2,842.85 to $3,450.60 actual cost per person
$18,245.18 total cost for six of seven travelers (Wyatt covered by the California State Association of Counties)
If you go
What — Imperial County Board of Supervisors
When — 8:30 a.m. today
Where — 940 Main St., Suite 211, El Centro
Staff Writer Elizabeth Varin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-337-3441.